Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Among giants

At night the woods world
rises up in vast formation
as the dogs and I
walk among giants
in the cool cocoon
of my headlamp
They are eager
oblivious of our escorts
seeing with their noses
unaware that we are not alone
Sunless, the axis of this space
has tilted on its side
there are no open reaches
to the mountain base
well known trees or brook cuts
calling birds or fresh
snow yielding fox tracks
The quiet that blankets
sight and thought
is only in my head
this place is never voiceless
even in deep winter
I follow in the wake
of wagging tails
and steaming breath
breaking trail into the dark


___________________________________
Originally published in Dancer in the Mist, 2015
Revised 12/2020


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Thinning time

Seven mornings in a row
the early eastern light
has snatched me away from sleep
filling my eyes with huge slashes
of sunrise, dark angry and pink
The first was on samhain, and
I could see the hand of Rage
reaching slyly toward the thinning 
scrim of time’s divide
its camp follower Fire hoping
to slip through alongside
compressed to nothing
like the soft bones of mice
The whispers of my genes begged
shout No and cry many tears
They will thicken the dawn
refusing entry to this surfeit of evil
All you love depends on them

Audio: Read by the author.



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Floaters

High summer
in an old house
occupied by an army
of visiting bugs
brings dreams
of parachutes
for those I must evict
The one too many ones
the wrong kind of spider
a waving scuttler
scooped up
all elbowed legs
and angled hairy parts 
Then I run
the mercy packet
to the door
flung open to release
the tissue wrapped
passenger
and watch it float
down to sanctuary
on a bed
of violet leaves 

 

________________________________________
A very old house. In the winter we have critters. Summer brings the bugs The right kind of spiders? Thin bodied long-legged spiders that look like Charlotte. 


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Waiting

She pried my eye open,
brilliant Venus did, balanced
just above the pine spikes,
tired of waiting for me
to get on with dreaming.
A clear sky, meteors done,
still hours away from light.
Sleep brained, back to bed
with snoring dogs,
a dream of love waiting
across a bog, only reached
by floating stones,
until I balked and stepped
to solid ground.
She knew this one
was in the queue, and
did not want it buried
in the dreamless part of sleep,
but felt, and have me warned.


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Late present

The moon brought me a gift
last night, before the
solstice rain moved in.
I left the crispness
of my northern woods
to walk the dew off grass again
with you. It’s late, the
house lights dark, the night
all midsummer lushness,
bell buoys ringing softly.
We know the way by feel
across the lawns and
down the hill to home,
but cannot pass the garden
with its flat topped walls.
We sit, shoulders touching,
stone still warm, and let our
breath find a rhythm together
after days apart. Then on
our way again, to soft
lamp light on varnished
wood, and pick up where
we were before the first
mosquito bit.
This morning I still feel
your hands, your skin on mine,
and smile.

 

 


Audio:
Read by the author.

 


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And Peggy Sue

They called him Crane, not Ichabod but the bird. I’d see him Saturday nights at the tap room where he won big money throwing darts, bony fingers on a different circuit from the rest of him when as he drank. Never pretty in daylight — when drunk, his angles seemed smoothed out, almost aging movie star vaselined. The dim lit corners left the knife scar on his neck alone, a dull flash of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness. One of those nights college boys found the bar, and while the rest of his townie pals shunned the clueless preps, he fought them at the dart board one by one with his dead aim, metal sinking into cork almost soundless, like a perfect dive knifes into chlorined blue. Always left them broke, their egos bleeding out. The drunker he got, the better he played, groove sunk cheeks split by a grin. He took them all, keening Peggy Sue softly between each throw.